Paradigm Dramas Revisited: Reflections on the History of American Studies

  • Jeffrey L. Meikle University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: historiography, paradigm, national identity, American Quarterly, American Studies Association, Gene Wise, Leo Marx, Janice Radway


This essay updates Gene Wise's influential "'Paradigm Dramas' in American Studies" by examining the American Studies movement at four key moments: publication of Leo Marx's myth-and-symbol Machine in the Garden in 1964; Wise's presentation of the pluralistic "Paradigm Dramas" at a meeting of the American Studies Association (ASA) in 1975; Janice Radway's ASA presidential address promoting transnational scholarship in 1998; and ASA's boycott of Israel, confirming a turn to political advocacy, in 2013. The history of the field is assessed by informal content analysis of articles published by American Quarterly during the four-year period leading up to each key moment.

Author Biography

Jeffrey L. Meikle, University of Texas at Austin

Stiles Professor in American Studies

Professor of Art History


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